February 9, 2023

MESSAGE – Fifth Sunday after Epiphany – A – 5 February 2023

MESSAGE – Fifth Sunday after Epiphany – A – 5 February 2023

What is authentic spirituality? In what ways do we know – and do others experience – that we have a real, vibrant relationship with God? These are the questions raised by the readings this week.

In Isaiah a contrast is drawn between the indulgent spirituality of the people, which leaves them disconnected from God and from God’s purposes, with the result that they feel no answer from God when they fast and pray, and true fasting and prayer which are expressed in lives of justice and compassion. In the Psalm, those who live justly and righteously are celebrated, and are assured of God’s care.

In Paul’s letter, we are reminded that God is not known by the usual means that the world tries to find life and goodness, but only in Christ and Christ’s crucifixion. It is as we open to God’s Spirit that we receive God’s presence and power, and that we receive “the mind of Christ” which will inevitably lead us into lives that emulate Christ’s selfless service and  sacrifice.

In the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel, we discover that true righteousness is not that of the Pharisees – legalistic, individualistic obedience to law – but is to be light and salt in the world, fulfilling the heart of the law by bringing life and goodness to others,  and drawing them into healing and saving knowledge of God. Clearly, for the  Lectionary this week, true spirituality is seen in a living, vibrant relationship with God through Christ, and by God’s Spirit, which is then reflected and expressed through actions of compassion, justice and service in the world.

If we live this kind of spirituality, it will inevitably draw others to this God we serve – and that’s a huge bonus for us! May our worship this week lead us into true encounter with God, and lead us out in the power of God’s Spirit to serve the world that God loves.